Mobile phones and surge in cycling could partly explain Norfolk road casualty increase, say council officers
- Credit: PA
The number of people killed or seriously hurt on Norfolk's roads has risen, with council bosses saying mobile phone use and a surge in cycling could be partly behind the increase.
In the 12 months leading up to September last year, 412 people died or were seriously injured on the county's roads, compared to 408 in the 12 months before September 2015.
While that figure is still way down on the 567 killed or seriously hurt in 2005 and generally numbers have been coming down, Norfolk County Council bosses fear they may not achieve their target to cut the number of people killed or seriously injured each year to 308 by the end of 2020.
A report which will come before councillors next week states: 'In Norfolk, a baseline target was set to reduce annual casualty figures by a third, from 462 in 2010 to 308 by the end of 2020. For most authorities, progress has slowed.
'There are a number of societal and technological reasons for this slow down, including a significant increase in mobile phone and cycle usage, balanced by enhanced vehicle and child seat technologies.'
Fines for using mobile phones while driving increased last year, while the EDP ran a Hands Off campaign, backed by the police.
Cycling has also enjoyed a boost in popularity, with major investment in improvements around Norwich.
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But cyclists, along with pedestrians and motorcyclists are considered to be a particularly vulnerable group.
More than half those killed or seriously injured were in that group.
When they meet next Wednesday, county councillors are likely to agree to create a special task group of councillors to address the rise.
That group would work with County Hall officers and members of the Norfolk casualty reduction partnership to forge a revised strategy to tackle the issue.
The partnership includes police and the fire service.
Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of the council's communities committee, said the council was committed to reducing the tally and said there had been positive work done, particularly to educate drivers.
But she added: 'Our roads are getting busier and progress towards our 2020 target is starting to slow, so a new invigorated focus during 2018 would be welcomed.'
Norfolk's police and crime commissioner, Lorne Green, said he was committed to reducing the number of road deaths.
He added: 'There is a plethora of issues that surround road safety, which include traffic growth and more powerful vehicles.
'But at the end of the day people have a personal responsibility when behind the wheel.
'As a partnership we have to look at engineering issues and the fact there are more cars on the road and take a holistic approach to it.'